Speaking your truth matters. The bottled up anxiety, daily depression and shame we sit with, as caregivers, don’t do us any favors. Without a clear-cut job description many of us are left feeling like we’re supposed to do it all, sacrifice everything and not say a peep. Sounds reasonable enough. Sarcasm aside, this type of go-it-alone martyrdom simply isn’t sustainable. While reaching out to friends, family and neighbors to help should be the norm, sometimes schedules get blundered and we’re left back at square one again, until now.
As the Internet grows, so do the resources for caregivers. The Caregiver Space is an online community where caregivers can go to unwind and safely express and cope with the ball of emotions that their work stirs up. There’s no shame or judgment speaking your truth here—it’s actually the only thing we ask of you.
Logging into this community enables you to broach tough topics in a safe space. Unlike some sites, this community welcomes all caregivers. Members have access to discussion boards to vent, reflect and discuss most topics under the sun. Even when your friends, family and neighbors feel inaccessible, this is a community you can come to count on. While experiencing emotions like stress, anxiety, guilt, frustration and anger are valid, holding onto them ultimately undermine our overall health.
As a man, I’m all too familiar with the cultural credos to stuff emotions and act stoic in the face of adversity. But I’m no aspiring John Wayne and when I do show up as a caregiver I want to come from a place of love, patience and understanding. Holding onto the other emotions muddy my ability show up fully. Whether you’re a husband, brother, boyfriend or uncle, know that caregiving doesn’t discriminate against gender. We’re all liable to be asked to step in and care for someone important in our lives. Making room to stay emotionally healthy is the only way to keep caregiving from turning into a toxic relationship we resent.
Just like starting a new job, signing up for the gym, or moving to a new city—it helps to know someone who’s been there before. Your online relationships offer a reassuring hand on your shoulder, a community full of people who’ve already been there, fighting to do it all.
You can find the community you most relate to on the discussion boards but also more privately through one on one messaging and chats. Each week there are also topical facilitated chats led by mental health professionals. For the days when all you need is a place to quietly pour out emotions on the page, a personal blog is another feature at a member’s disposal.
Caregivers often face a steep learning curve when it comes to factoring their own health into their care responsibilities. The Caregiver Space now makes a point of producing articles, videos and programs designed to address caregivers’ needs. From physical fitness and mental health to proper sleep, therapeutic journaling, nutrition and bereavement, the non-profit staff makes efforts to provide relevant information you can digest easily and quickly.
Caregiving doesn’t have to set the stage for burnout and with the right community, you can trust you won’t have to go there.
Jonah Okun is the development director at The Caregiver Space. He holds a degree in Comparative Digital Communication and Happiness Studies. An avid investigator of the effectiveness new technologies have breeding healthy relationships, Mr. Okun spends his days exploring ways to bring meaningful support to the online caregiver community. A competitive pool player and avid poet for over a decade, he finds new inspiration and opportunities daily in Brooklyn where he calls home.